Rapid Covid testing is coming to part of Falmouth.
King Charles Court Nursing Home is one of only 20 care homes in the country to be chosen for a pilot scheme giving rapid testing to families.
Provided they test negative, it will give families greater access to their loved ones, with unlimited length visits and limited physical contact, such as hand-holding, while still wearing PPE.
King Charles resident manager Melissa Jones said staff were “over the moon” to have been successful in their bid to be part of the pilot scheme.
She said: “It will mean everything for residents.
“We’re thrilled. It will mean a lot more work for us, but it is worth it for families to be reunited. It’s been an awful time for everybody.”
Families will need to book a time slot to arrive at, 30 minutes before their visit time. They will then take the test and get the results 30 minutes later.
“If they test positive the visit can’t go ahead, but if the test is negative they can have a more meaningful visit with their loved ones.
“We’re over the moon we can have some sort of normality back in our home.
“Never in my career did I think I would have to say, ‘Please would you agree to a non-contact visit’. It was very upsetting to see,” she added.
The home currently has 29 residents, aged in their late 60s up to the eldest resident at age 104.
Melissa said that the team had done everything possible to keep families in contact, both digitally and also brief visits under strict time slots during late summer, when restrictions relaxed. However, these have currently ended again with the introduction of the second lockdown.
The rapid testing should be in place for families to begin using this Wednesday, following trial runs on Monday and Tuesday.
Staff have already completed a number of webinar training sessions.
Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: “I know how heart-breaking restricting visits to care homes has been, not only for residents, many of whom will feel disoriented and confused by the situation, but also their loved ones who aren’t able to simply hug each other to support them in this difficult time.
“Thanks to the expanding testing capacity we have in place we can now begin to trial a new way to allow safer visits to take place and prevent the spread of Covid-19.
“I must stress this is only possible if the public takes the right actions now to bring the transmission rate under control while national restrictions are in place.
“By respecting social distancing and staying at home as much as possible we will help reunite families and friends with loved ones in care homes as quickly as possible.”
The pilot, which forms part of plans to roll out mass testing technology across the country, has been made possible thanks to an expansion in the country’s testing capacity, which currently stands at over 500,000 per day.
Each care home in the pilot will receive a box of 675 rapid tests initially and will be given access to more as required.
The pilot is taking place in local authorities with lower transmission rates to ensure it can be done as safely as possible and care staff are being trained to ensure tests are administered safely and accurately.
If successful, care home testing will be rolled out in a phased way across the country.